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July 9, 2023

Demand, Incentivize and Educate – Viola Tan, BArch Architecture ’24

by aweek05

Since my last blog, I’ve been mainly diving into my other project, the Building Differently project focusing on promoting modular and offsite construction technologies in Boston. We’ve been conducting interviews with developers, contractors, designers, researchers and other government officials to learn about how we can make modular work in Boston.

Modular construction is not a new thing. However, it has not been a huge success in Boston, realizing it’s potential benefit of being able to create a large amount of housing quickly and effectively. Some of the challenges we identified through research and interviews so far include storage of modular units, staging, and transportation of units from modular factories. These challenges are mainly due to the fact that Boston is such a dense city without many nearby modular factories.

What resources are there to help? My awesome colleague Holly and I are currently working on mapping the land resources in Boston that might be suitable for storage, staging, and building a micro-factory. (Image showing map in progress) These include the publicly owned vacant land and some other unconventional land resources – a researcher at MIT suggested that we look into potentially renting sports fields in high schools and primary schools during the summer, when they are not using them as much. Another important resource would be open-air parking lots that are not being used as intensely, but I’m still figuring out if they exist (as parking is such a huge problem to start with) and if so, how to find out which lots are usually more free.

I want to end with an interview insight that I found super helpful. We kept asking people: what do you think the government can do to help? One of them, a researcher from McKinsey, said that there are three things the government can do to promote a new beneficial technology: demand/mandate, incentivize, and educate.

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